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Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) or what has also been coined Mangalyaan is a spacecraft placed in the Martian orbit by the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO). Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN Mission or what is also termed MAVEN is a spacecraft sent to the Mars orbit by National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The two different spacecraft entered the Martian territory with the sole motive to study the planet and look for possible signs of life.

MAVEN was launched on 18 November 2013 at Cape Canaveral SLC-41 and reached the Mars orbit on 22 September 2014. Mangalyaan, on the other hand, was launched on 5 November 2013 at Satish Dhawan FLP and entered the Mars orbit on 24 September 2014. The success of Mangalyaan made India the first Asian nation to reach Mars and the first nation to enter Mars orbit in its very first attempt. For NASA, it is yet another chapter in its long history of Mars mission.

There are some key differences between the two missions. While ISRO’s MOM or Mangalyaan is a small and modest attempt by India costing only around Rs 450 crore and carrying around five scientific instruments, NASA’s MAVEN cost 671 million USD and is carrying eight scientific instruments. While MAVEN is designed to study the state of the Mars' upper atmosphere, Mangalyaan, on the other has been designed to study and explore the surface features of Mars, mineralogy, morphology, and the Martian atmosphere.

The two missions have been created entirely for two different reasons. ISRO’s MOM has been created primarily as a technology testbed and secondarily as a platform to obtain Mars information and NASA’s mission is primarily based on the motive to obtain Mars information. The two spacecrafts also have different instruments as per their respective objectives. MOM’s instruments are of broad spectrum and mainstream while MAVEN’s instruments are all concentrated on upper realm of the planet, measuring greater accuracy and limits than earlier missions.

India’s Mangalyaan and NASA’s Maven have successfully flashed back images of the Red Planet hours after slipping into Mars orbit.

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